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Healthcare and Wellness : Innovation + Job News

135 Healthcare and Wellness Articles | Page: | Show All

Queen's Park kicks in $7 million for bioscience research

The provincial government has committed $7 million in funding to a new commercialization strategy for bioscience companies in the province. The money is aimed at aiding companies in getting their research to market.

The move came in response to a report from the Ontario Bioscience Industry Organization, "Industry Generated Recommendations for Sustainability and Growth of Ontario's Bioscience Industry in 2010 and Beyond." The group, which represents the private sector players in bioscience research and marketing, welcomed the investment from Queen's Park. "By providing this immediate support the province is recognizing the challenges facing Ontario bioscience companies," says OBIO president and CEO Gail Garland. "By giving these companies a shot in the arm, it will allow them to bring innovative technologies to market -- which benefits the health of Ontarians, the wealth of the province, and the health of the whole world."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Gail Garland, President & CEO, Ontario Bioscience Industry Organization

Got an Inovation & Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Hill & Knowlton adds 2 experts to growing health branch

Canadian public relations and communications giant Hill & Knowlton has announced significant growth in its health communications operation in Toronto, with the hiring of two new senior staff and a revised mandate for one of its executives.

In a statement, company president and CEO Michael Coates said that the moves are in response to significant growth in the company's business with health, medical and pharmaceutical companies. Francine Beck brings a background as a kinesiologist and journalist and 18 years of health marketing experience to her role as vice-president and national director, consumer health and pharmaceutical marketing. Gina DeBenedetti, the company's new vice president and national director, medical communications, is a certified public health inspector and has worked in both the communications and healthcare industries. Meanwhile, Toronto public affairs manager Jason Grier has been reassigned to the role of vice president and national director, health policy.

According to Ann-Marie Koumettou of Hill & Knowlton, responding to questions by email, the new additions to the company's staff bring the number of new hires in the past six months to 17. She says a number of factors have led to the growth: "We are very fortunate that we were not severely impacted by the recession in 2009, but we were cautious about expansion. To that end, now that we are into 2010 and in some strong, stable client relationships, we were well positioned to add the capability to both serve our clients' growing needs, but also to help us continue that expansion through new business activities."


Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ann-Marie Koumettou, Hill & Knowlton Canada

True North Climbing rocks Downsview and employs 20

An airplane hangar that was used to build mosquito bombers during World War II has been turned into a rock climbing gym at Downsview Park, one of four new businesses to set up shop at the park's burgeoning Sports Centre during the past year.

True North Climbing owner John Gross says the space was perfect for a climbing gym -- its high ceilings with windows at the top allow space for climbing equipment and lots of natural light. But even better, the steel construction of the hangar allowed the construction of a stalactite suspended from the 36-foot-high ceiling.

As of its opening day in mid-April, the gym has hired three full-time and 17 part-time staff, according to Gross. For the recreation industry, Downsview's Sports Centre has seen a mini-employment boom in the past year. "It's still kind of a secret," Gross says, "but I think we've hit critical mass now -- four new businesses have opened in the past year and people are becoming aware that we're all up here."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: John Gross, owner, True North Climbing

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Ryerson students' award-winning wastewater innovation removes 90% of drugs from water supply

Chemical Engineering students at Ryerson have designed a waste water treatment process using commercially available technology that would remove 90 per cent of pharmaceuticals and "Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds" from the water supply. The presence of drugs in waste-water -- and eventually in municipal drinking water -- is a growing concern, particularly around healthcare facilities where medical drug use is high.

The process, which won an honourable mention at the 2010 Ontario Engineering Competition, uses membrane biological reactors and advanced oxidation process to destroy harmful toxins. There are currently no sewage treatment plants in North America that use a process to adequately remove such toxins.

Kirill Cheiko, one of the four students who designed the process, said in a statement, "In Canada, the government doesn't enforce the removal of pharmaceutical drugs and EDCs... As a result, municipalities don't currently pursue removal, since it would incur extra expense. That said, it could also potentially reduce healthcare costs."

The students are now seeking funding to test the proposal in a laboratory.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Heather Kearney, Public Affairs, Ryerson University

Got an innovation and job news tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

High Park Nutrition adds mobile initiative 7 months after launch, employs 3, plans aggressive growth

High Park Nutrition saw a gap in the market when it launched its online health and wellness store last September. "We noticed that a lot of companies had tried the national play," says George Papayiannis, company founder and president. "We ship across the country, but we really focus on Ontario, and the GTA in particular."

The local focus -- which Papayiannis says is based on the importance of trust when buying health products online -- is reflected in the company's web address, hpn.to, and in taking its name from the Toronto neighbourhood where Papayiannis lived when he launched the initiative. Today based in a warehouse in Brampton and employing three staff seven months after launching, the company is embarking on an aggressive growth strategy.

Key to those growth plans is a new mobile e-commerce store (hpn.to/m), which the company claims is a Canadian first for a health and nutritional company. Based on observations that people were wary to place large orders when they were unfamiliar with the company, High Park Nutrition has also introduced a no-shipping-charge policy for all Ontario orders. It could lead to losses on many orders, but Papayiannis says he expects the move to build all-important customer trust.

Those initiatives introduced, the company will spend the next few quarters expanding its product offering from 1,500 to 10,000 items for sale, pursuing a long-tail strategy that takes advantage of the web's diversity and relationships with local suppliers.

And if growth meets his expectations in the coming months, Papyiannis expects to be hiring soon. "I definitely hope to hire in the next six to 12 months. Things are hectic at the moment, and we'll need some help as we expand."

Author: Edward Keenan
Source: George Papayiannis, President, High Park Nutrition

Got an Innovation and Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.



Cipher gets new drug reviewed by Health Canada, looks to ramp up growth with 3 late-stage products

Cipher Pharmaceuticals, based in Mississauga, has had its drug CIP-TRAMADOL ER, a pain-killer, accepted for review by Health Canada. The company expects the review to be completed by early 2011. The product has already received tentative FDA approval in the United States. It is an extended release version of tramadol, which already has a $50 million market in Canada (up 30 per cent in one year).

Cipher President and CEO Larry Andrews says it is one of three new drug products the company has in late-stage development. The company's lead compound, a prescription medication for managing cholesterol, is already marketed in the United States under the trade name Lipofen. The third new product, the acne medication isotretinoin, is in Phase 3 trials in the US.

The company went public in 2004 and employs 14 people today, and expects to grow revenue significantly as its products go to market. Given the typically glacial pace of the pharmaceutical research industry, Andrews says the current situation is a relief to be in. "It's nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel," he says. Encouragingly, in a business where financial health is often measured by the ability to generate new capital, the company has a low burn rate. With cash reserves of $9 million, the company spent only $1 million in 2009. Andrews says they are currently able to fund their work through their own revenues.

Author: Edward Keenan
Source: Larry Andrews, President and CEO, Cipher Pharmaceuticals

Got an Innovation and Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.



High Park Family Fun Place opens in Junction April 3 with 17 staff

The central-west Toronto neighbourhood of the Junction is strollerville these days -- competing with Riverdale, Leslieville and Bloor West Village for the title of hipster-parent central. Two of those local parents in The Junction, partners Jennifer Turkenburg and Pierre Kasonga, are opening the High Park Family Fun Place to provide a community centre for all those young families to congregate.

The founders say the space was inspired by "our dream of having a community recreational meeting place that all local residents can enjoy." The facility will include an indoor playground, a full-scale fitness gym, an arts and crafts centre and events spaces for education and community events and parties.

If the programming seems ecccentric, it's because it represents the things the founders wish they had in their own community. Turkenburg says, "The High Park Family Fun Place is a truly a labour of love and has been created to better serve a wide community of great parents, grandparents and caregivers. We want to build the community hub we are all longing for."

The centre opens April 3 with a staff of 18. A full day of activities are planned for the kickoff party April 3, including puppet shows, magicians and music.

Author: Edward Keenan
Source: Pierre Kasonga and Jennifer Turkington, Founders, High Park Family Fun Place

Got an Innovation and Job News tip? Send it to Edward Keenan at edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

YM Biosciences gets $17.5 million in new financing for drug development research

YM Biosciences, based in Mississauga, is in the business of turning our country's investments in health sciences research and innovation into products that can be brought to market and improve public health. "We take our public investment in innovation and turn it into a return for society," says David Allan, the company's CEO. Hospitals and universities spend billions of public dollars on basic research, he notes, but very little of it is pursued beyond the basic stage. YM Biosciences uses that basic research to pursue clinical trials to prove the efficacy of drugs for the market.

Allan says he is surprised and somewhat dismayed that there are very few companies doing what his does, noting that the investment in research we make as citizens is so often wasted -- that is, it finds no public health application. And he also sees it as a huge opportunity, "it's almost free food," he says. Which doesn't mean conducting clinical trials is inexpensive.

Last week, YM Biosciences secured US$17.5 million in financing by issuing shares. The money will be used to pursue three products it is currently developing. Allan says that as drug testers, YM Biosciences is a "huge consumer of capital," and that the company has raised roughly $200 million in financing in the 15 years since its founding.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: David Allan, CEO, YM Biosciences

Reena's new social service facility in Vaughan will employ 20+, house 84, serve even more

Reena, a social service agency in Vaughan that serves people with developmental disabilities by housing them and helping them integrate into the community, has secured a $1.5 million grant from the provincial government towards the construction of a new facility in Vaughan.

The new building on the agency's Lebovic Campus will house 84 people and will employ 20 support staff immediately, in addition to the construction trades jobs created before it opens, says Minnie Ross, communications and marketing manager of Reena. She says the number of employees "will increase to 30 or 40 over the next two years."

The new building will also house the agency's professional development training program, creating 56 new training spaces for those considering working with the developmentally disabled, and a day centre serving young adults in the community who require programming during the day.

The agency, founded in 1973, currently provides services to approximately 1,000 individuals, including housing 300 people in 132 group homes, condos and apartments.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Minnie Ross, Communications and Marketing Manager, Reena

New drug development consulting "think tank" Bioprocessing Alliance Inc. opens in the 905

Bioprocessing Alliance Inc, a new biologics drug development "think tank" meant to assist innovator companies with managing their third-party relationships, has set up shop in the 905 to serve the global market, with an "intergalactic headquarters" in Timmins.

Co-founder and director of corporate affairs Terry Cochrane says that in the past 10 years, innovator companies in the drug development field have moved away from constructing their own facilities to manufacture medications for clinical trials. The shift towards outsourcing in the industry has led to increased complexity in managing relationships with service providers. "Our group has extensive experience managing these things from the service-provider side," Cochrane says. "We basically provide the handshake between the service providers and the knowledge companies."

Just launched on March 10, the Alliance is in "encouraging" talks with a long and growing list of potential clients, Cochrane says.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Tom Cochrane, Director of Corporate Affairs, Bioprocessing Alliance Inc.



From 1 boot camp in Forest Hill to 15 locations, Fit Chicks plans to go national this year, hire 15

"Don't let the cute chicks fool you. It's not girly," says Fit Chicks founder and "Head Chick" Laura Jackson of her company's G.I. Jane Bootcamp. "We take a lighthearted approach and have fun and foster a sense of community. But it's also a great workout."

Jackson and her "business partner and BFF" Amanda Quinn were looking for all those things in a workout -- and not finding them -- when they decided to launch Fit Chicks in September 2008. They hosted a G.I. Jane Bootcamp in a park in Forest Hill, and the response, she says, was overwhelming. Today they run classes in 14 GTA locations and one in Ottawa (a class in Vaughan just launched this week, while another Ottawa location will be added in April).

The company employs 15 "Chick Seargants" and one "Admin Chick," and business has reached a level to allow Quinn to leave her job with the Toronto International Film Festival to join Jackson in running the company full-time. The duo plan to take their fitness army national this year, expanding to Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax, and anticipate hiring another 15 employees along the way. They are currently looking to move the business out of Jackson's home and into an office in the St. Lawrence Market area.

In addition, Jackson says she has plans in the works to expand their fitness empire into more of a full-service wellness company, offering a merchandise line and cookbooks in addition to other products.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Laura Jackson, Founder and Head Chick, Fit Chicks

Mount Sinai mentors 10 skilled immigrants through TRIEC program -- a first in Toronto hospitals

In a first for a Toronto hospital, Mount Sinai has been giving 10 skilled immigrants a boost under The Mentoring Partnership for the past several months. The program partners  working professional mentors with skilled new Canadians. Mentors introduce their partners to members of their personal network and show them the ropes of the Canadian industry and workplace.

The program, run by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), has over 50 corporate partners, including financial institutions, universities and utilities, but Mount Sinai is the first hospital to participate. According to Joanne Fine-Schwebel who is director of volunteers at the hospital, the first round has been a success (including seeing several of the immigrants finding employment). She says the program is not just a help to immigrants, either. "We decided to participate because we have a very diverse staff and patient population, and that's a real strength for the hospital," she says. "The strength is that we have staff who reflect the patient population and that's how we can better understand and care for our patients."

The program is not for workers in regulated professions such as doctors. Instead it focused on other skilled jobs, in this case including finance and human resources professionals and occupational therapy workers.

Information provided by TRIEC says that this is just the latest step in an exemplary diversity program at Mount Sinai. "A diversity census of the hospital's workforce found, for example, that 57 per cent of their workforce speaks a language other than English and one third of their employees entered Canada in the past 10 years," the organization writes in an email. The hospital has also been partnering with Care for Nurses, a bridging program for nurses trained abroad that helps them obtain their Ontario nursing license.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: TRIEC, Mount Sinai Hospital

Don Mills-based Celestica announces more than $2.8 million in investment, appoints 3 key directors

Don Mills-based multinational electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. has announced last week that it is investing in its growing healthcare division.

The announcement included information about $2.8 million in investment in one of its labs in China, and the appointment of three new key managers in the division. Nancy Duarte-Lonnroth has been appointed Director of Quality, Regulatory Affairs. Richard Rubin joins Celestica as Director of Market Development. And Michael Sobolewski becomes Director of Sales and Business Development.

In a statement, Celestica Pesident and CEO Craig Muhlhauser said the moves are part of the company's commitment to innovation. "Our approach is to collaborate with our healthcare customers to deliver new and innovative supply chain solutions designed specifically for the healthcare industry of the future."

Celestica was founded in 1994 by IBM, but was acquired two years later by Toronto billionaire Gerry Schwartz's Onex Corporation. The company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has built a manufacturing network that extends to locations in 40 countries around the world.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Celestica Inc.

Mike & Mike's grows by 800% in five years, hires three more and launches Organic Select brand

Mississauga-based organic food distributor Mike & Mike's has added three staff members to manage a new product line of organic snacks launched earlier this month. The Organic Select line of nut and berry blends is now in stores across the GTA, and the company will soon launch a web home for the brand at www.organicselect.ca that it hopes will become a hub for information on healthy living and all things organic. The company says more hiring may happen with the site's launch.

The new brand is just the latest phase of rapid growth for the five-year-old company. Launched in 2005 out of a 2,500-square-foot Etobicoke warehouse with only three employees, the company today occupies 20,000 square feet (fully half of that refrigerated) in Mississauga and has a staff of 18. Their main business has been distributing organic produce, though they have branched out into dairy and bulk.

The line of 26 different snack foods represents the company's first time branding its own products. "We wanted to develop a product that was really superior quality, and certified organic," President Mike Fronte says. "When people take it home and try it, we want them to say, 'Wow! This is really good."

While bustling business in Toronto, where pretty much everything organic has become a lifestyle status marker, has led to steady growth for the company, Fronte says that he's always focused on expanding gradually, at a manageable pace. And that's his forecast for the future as the new line and website develop. "We're going to take growth slow and steady and ensure that our current customer base is served 100% -- we never want our existing customers to suffer for our growth."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mike Fronte, President of Mike & Mike's

Durham region gets $35K to support local eating Food Charter

Ever since the 2007 publication of The 100-mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, locavorism has become an ever-growing trend across North America. You can't read a Queen Street West restaurant menu these days without learning which farm your cow grew up on, and you can hardly navigate a city park amid the bugaboo strollers and bulging reusable designer bags crowded around the Farmers' Markets and the plots of community gardens.

While the conscious eating trend is more than local, much of the groundwork for the city's network of conscious food infrastructure was laid with the adoption of the Toronto Food Charter (pdf) in 2001.

And now, in a part of the 905 where farming is actually still a thriving industry, sustainable eating is taking on a similar practical force: the non-profit Community Development Council of Durham has secured $35,000 in funding to turn the principles of the Durham Region Food Charter into real action. The Charter has been in development for over three years. It lays out principles for healthy eating, environmental sustainabiltiy and support for local agriculture.

The CDCD initiative, funded by Friends of the Greenbelt, will set up an action plan and working group. According to Friends, 25% of farms in Ontario's greenbelt are located in Durham region.

The charter's goals also received a boost recently with the formation of The Durham Culinary Association, a Pickering-based social networking group of chefs devoted to local eating established by chef Philippe Trepanier and teacher James Blair.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Friends of the Greenbelt, Community Development Council of Durham, newsdurhamregion.com.
135 Healthcare and Wellness Articles | Page: | Show All
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